Hot pics, Porn, Porn Movies, Sex and Women — July 1, 2008 at 10:02 pm

“Why Women Hate Porn” (And Why They Like It)

Porn postcard from postsecretThe Ask Sam blog at the Sydney Morning Herald has published this post entitled “Why Women Hate Porn.”

Unfortunately the article doesn’t actually discuss the whys and wherefores of any negative female reactions to porn. Rather it points out recent statistics that one in three Australian women regularly watch porn. And then the author asserts that women have taken up porn watching because it’s trendy, or because they want to please men (as this Salon blog post suggests).

I can’t help but think this is a huge wasted opportunity to discuss women and porn, squandered on a few vague generalisations and the blanket statement that “what we need is more foreplay, more romance, more kissing after sex and more (gasp!) story line.”

If 25-30% of women are looking at porn regularly, that still leaves a lot of women who aren’t so keen. I thought I’d whack together a quick, simple and numbered list of suggestions as to why some women don’t like porn.

1. The vast majority of porn is made for a male audience. It depicts male fantasies and focuses on male pleasure. Female viewers aren’t acknowledged as an audience.

2. Mainstream porn is often unrealistic and divorced from situations in which everyday women experience sex. It’s also increasingly focused on sex acts that aren’t normative. A simple example: anal sex is standard in today’s porn, but an awful lot of women aren’t so keen on butt sex (and when you consider that in porn butt sex is usually portrayed as painful or cruel, it’s not surprising).

3. The performers in mainstream porn can be alienating and/or unappealing to women. Fake tits, blond hair, no cellulite, no pubic hair… Porn actresses can make women feel self conscious about their bodies. They may also find it hard to empathise with the female stars, which can make watching porn less appealing. And male porn stars can be seriously unattractive or downright creepy.

4. Mainstream porn can have an element of sexism or misogyny involved e.g. the reality sites where women are “tricked” into sex and derided. Even the language of porn (“slut, bitch, whore”) is not encouraging to women who enjoy sex. It upholds the old dichotomies of virgin/whore; women are simultaneously valued and despised because they have sex.

5. There’s still plenty of uncertainty about where porn fits into a relationship. A lot of women feel threatened by their man’s use of porn. There’s a concern that fantasy will make reality less appealing.

6. Some women are concerned that porn is warping men’s idea of good sex, making them expect sex acts that may be unusual or demeaning or unpleasurable for the woman. They feel it misleads men into thinking women will act or think a certain way, one that doesn’t reflect reality.

7. Our Western/Christian society is still very anti-sex and anti-pleasure. Beyond those women who are religiously opposed to porn, there’s still a cultural resistance to the idea of “the prurient interest.” Porn is dirty, uncivilised, unladylike and should be spurned.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but that’s a good start. And I realise there are plenty of generalisations and assumptions going on there. There’s no science behind what I’ve written, just speculation. Indeed, there needs to be heaps more research into this whole thing.

So, to be fair, I’m going to make a list of reasons as to why some women DO like porn.

1. It’s good masturbation material.

2. It can inspire new sexual fantasies that can be used to spice up a relationship.

3. Watching it with a partner can be a form of foreplay.

4. It can inspire a desire to experiment with new ideas in bed (although porn as sex education is never a good idea).

5. Purely for entertainment.

Hmmm, now I make that list, I suspect those are the same reasons why men watch porn.

And interesting that the reasons against are so complicated but the reasons for it are simple.

As a feminist pornographer, I’m can see both the positive and negative aspects of porn. I know I can defend the idea of sexually explicit material while still being critical of the many problems associated with porn. I never want to see this in black and white. Porn is problematic, no doubt about that. Indeed, if porn was perfect, I’d probably still be working as a librarian now.

It’s my desire to make it better that inspires me. Porn doesn’t have to be crappy. Women shouldn’t have to hate it. It’s not going to go away any time soon so we should be aiming to make it better, more realistic, more inclusive, more engaging, more erotic, more intimate and, yes, sexier.

That’s why I make porn.

Pic: From Postsecret

Edit: Jezebel has a good post on this topic here.

11 Comments

  1. The blog post itself aside, i found the comments on that post infuriating. How /dare/ these people make totalising statements about the nature of the people and relationships involving porn? There’s this overall tone that porn is inevitably a negative influence that can’t coexist in an intimate and loving long-term relationship in an ongoing way. Well, my (bigendered) self and my two (female) partners of almost 4 and over 5 years would strongly beg to differ. Porn, human relationships and the interaction between these two things are hugely complex and multifaceted things, and these self-righteous jerks making these general pronouncements from on high need to realise that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in their philosophy.

  2. I love your Why Women DO Like Porn List!
    I want to elaborate on #4, or at least open up some more thought on the educational possibilities of explicit video.

    One thought is that for marginalized sexualities and behaviors, porn is a validating experience that can empower its viewers as much as it inspires people new to the idea.

    Case in point: queer porn. Porn featuring performers who are part of a community not normally seeing themselves in pornography. For example, people who are genderqueer/andro and mixed race. A trans person who is thinking about taking hormones, but who has never seen a role model in a sexual realm would benefit from a positive example of queer sexuality.

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. A great list!

    It really infuriates me when research observes a reality (ie that women don’t watch porn) and assume that this is because women don’t like it, because “of course” porn is just a neutral entertainment outlet…your list attempts to push the discussion to why…the same thing goes for other social “realities” (ie women and science, or women leaving the workforce) where instead of looking to the underlying sexism in the institutions, traditioanlly gendered assumptions are made. No matter what the “study”, it’s a bunch of hooey.

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  5. I said much the same thing on Jezebel, but for me, I just don’t like American porn, for many of the reasons you describe, but mostly because the women almost always seem to be in pain. You see shots of completely dry vaginas and the girls have this look on their face where they’re trying to look like they’re having fun but they’re in pain. I never had a problem with boyfriends and porn, but I’ve noticed where bad sex is, so is porn. One boyfriend in particular never ate me out, not once, despite many blow jobs, and I had painful sex with him because his ego was constantly on the verge of self destruction– he didn’t understand why I didn’t just get wet looking at him (thanks, porn!). And when I tried to show him things I liked he’d get all- “but how am I supposed to know that? You’ve got to admit, no one else wants to do stuff like that, that’s weird.” Like, a fucking argument about touching my clit while boning (which most girls like, actually, but God knows you never see it in porn). This guy watched porn all the time. So I am fairly sure that if you watch porn, and don’t pay attention to what the real live girls you’re with like, then what you get is a person who is fucking horrible in bed.

    What I don’t understand is this. Men want to be studs, they want to please women. So they say. Why THE FUCK are there no porn guides to what the fuck to do in bed?

  6. Pornography will always be looked down upon by mainstream society so long as it continues to degrade the members of both sexes. Mainstream pornography is degrading to both men and women. Men, because all men are supposed to like “sluts, whores and bitches” and not care about women; and, women, for the same reason, and, also, because women are only supposed to cater to men’s needs, not their own. Women, according to mainstream society, only need love, romance and money-not sex. IF a woman likes sex and dares to tell people, it’s a shock because women are not supposed to do that.

    So long as everyone continues to accept this, no growing will ever occur in the pornography industry, or on personal sexual fronts either.

  7. Thank you for this.It was very well thought out and well written.

    I enjoy watching porn myself. but when men try to hide it from you it can make you feel like he thinks you’re stupid.
    just in case you wanted another reason why a lot of women dont like it.

  8. I also agree that these arguments are over-simplified but they are quick points, not a discursive article. I think pornography is like a legalised drug and that it is like playing with fire. Many will argue for its benefits but just google “girl cums in guy’s face” and see how many links pop up when compared with “guy cums in girl’s face.” These degrading and patriarchal mainstream ways in which pornography function don’t appear to be changing. I don’t see a reason to keep pornography around, even if there were more porns made with women cumming in guys’ faces. Hollywood has enough sex scenes and porn should just be done away with. Like a drug, it has ruined marriages, needs treatment, and is generally rejected by society because of its lack of creativity and tact. I totally agree with sex scenes that aren’t degrading, but that seems unimaginable in the porn industry.

  9. i think porn is of Lucifer and has cause much harm than good. meet me through email and convince me more. i am interested in this topic. see you at yahoo.

    • Uh, no, I don’t think I’m going to email you for a debate. Lucifer is a figment of your imagination and given that you seem to believe in fire-and-brimstone religion, I doubt the use of logic or scientific arguments are going to convince you otherwise.

      Still, if you think porn causes harm, you might like to read this article: http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/57169/ “As the use of porn increases the rate of sex crimes go down.”

  10. I always used to be a fan of porn but my interest is waning. While I accept that more and more quality porn is being released, there is still far too much rubbish out there.
    I don’t agree with the idea that porn, good or bad, is safe for the general populous however. What is it teaching young teenagers about sex? That women love being gangbanged? That unsafe sex is good sex? That degrading and humiliating women is proper behaviour for a boy?
    Porn is great for spicing up a relationship or aiding a masturbation session. It’s devastating for young children who’s only knowledge of sex will come from trashy porn vids they’ve found on the net.
    It’s time for our Govt’s to start making responsible porn for teens I reckon ;)